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Unformatted text preview: ul al-fiqh, especially in our discussion of the rules of interpretation, it is ta'wil rather than tafsir with which we are primarily concerned. The ulema of usul have defined ta'wil as departure from the manifest (Zahir) meaning of a text in favour of another meaning where there is evidence to justify the departure. 400.] [4. Amidi, Ihkam, III, 53; Badran, Usul, p. Ta'wil which is attempted in accordance with the conditions that ensure its propriety is generally accepted, and the ulema of all ages, including the Companions, have applied it in their efforts at deducing legal rules from the Qur'an and Sunnah. Ta'wil which is properly constructed constitutes a valid basis for judicial decisions. But to ensure the propriety of ta'wil, it must fulfil certain conditions, which are as follows: (1) That there is some evidence to warrant the application of ta'wil, and that it is not founded on mere inclination or personal opinion. (2) That the word or words of a given text are amenable to ta'wil. In this way only certain types of words, including for example the manifest (Zahir) and explicit (Nass), are open to ta'wil, but not the unequivocal (Mufassar) and the perspicuous Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 86 (Muhkam). Similarly, the general ('Amm) and the absolute (Mutlaq) are susceptible to ta'wil but not the specific (Khass) and the qualified (Muqayyad), although there are cases where these too have been subjected to ta'wil. (3) That the word which is given an allegorical interpretation has a propensity, even if only a weak one, in favour of that interpretation. This condition would preclude a far-fetched interpretation that goes beyond the capacity of the words of a given text. (4) That the person who attempts ta'wil is qualified to do so and that his interpretation is in harmony with the rules of the language and customary or juridical usage. Thus it would be unacceptable if the word qur' in the Qur'anic text (al-Baqarah, 2:228) were to be given a meaning other than the two meanings which it bears, namely menstruation (hayd) and the clean period between menstruations (tuhr). For qur' cannot carry an additional meaning, and any attempt to give it one would violate the rules of the language. But ta'wil in the sense of a shift from the literal to the metaphorical and from the general to the specific is not a peculiarity of Arabic, in that words in any language are, in fact, amenable to these possibilities. Amidi, Ihkam, III, 54; Badran, Usul, pp. 400-401.] There are two types of ta'wil, namely ta'wil which is remote and far-fetched, and 'relevant' ta'wil which is within the scope of what might be thought of as correct understanding. An example of the first type is the Hanafi interpretation of a Hadith which instructed a Companion, Firuz al-Daylami, who professed Islam while he was married to two sisters, to 'retain [amsik] one of the two, whichever you wish, and separate from the other'. [6. Tabrizi, Mishkat, III, 948, Hadith no. 3178; Amidi, Ihkam, II, 54; Badran, Usul, p. 401.] The Hanafis have interpreted this Hadith to the effect that al-Daylami was asked to contract a new marriage with one of the sisters, if they happened to have be...
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